Cumin: how to use it in the kitchen and benefits

Cumin recipes, spice properties and cooking alternatives

The cumin it could be one of those little-used spices you came across while shopping at the supermarket. You may have also wondered what exactly it is used for and how it is used in the kitchen. And although not many know it, this ingredient has been known since ancient times.

In fact, it is believed that it was already used in ancient times Egypt. References to cumin can be found in the Old and New Testament of the Bible. Scholars believe that the spice was used not only as an ingredient to flavor recipes, but also as a useful element for the preservation of mummies.

In this article we want to find out what are the uses of cumin, how to use it in cooking and also examine the possible benefits that this spice could bring to our health. First of all, however, let’s see what are the origins and characteristics of this plant.

Cumin: the characteristics of this spice

The cumin that we know well today is nothing more than the spice obtained from the dried seed of one annual herbaceous plant call “Cumin“. This belongs to the family of “Apiaceae“, Also called” Umbrelliferae “, the same that includes another ingredient widely used in Italian cuisine, namely parsley. Coriander is also part of it.

The plant is characterized by filiform leaves, and during the summer it is colored with tiny white and pink flowers.

A little curiosity: cumin is considered one of the main ingredients for the preparation of a spice famous all over the world, namely curry.

Healing properties: what are cumin seeds good for?

Like many other spices, cumin can also offer not only a tantalizing taste, but also a series of beneficial properties that make it an excellent ally for our health. In particular, it is good for the stomach because of its ability to act on digestive functions. Like licorice, horseradish and hops, it boasts remarkable carminative properties.

The plant is therefore used for the treatment of common problems such as that of flatulence and the meteorism, helps fight aerophagia and reduce gas formation in the intestine. Furthermore, it stimulates the sense ofappetite and helps fight painful intestinal spasms and colic.

According to tradition, the plant also exerts a galactogogue action, like fennel. This means that its intake should increase and encourage the new mother’s milk production. Before taking this spice during the pregnancy or while breastfeeding, however, talk to your doctor to avoid putting your health or that of your baby at risk.

How do you make cumin tea?

If you want to take advantage of the beneficial properties of cumin, a herbal tea could be for you. Preparing it is very simple. In fact, you just need to pour 8 grams of cumin flowers, 8 grams of fennel seeds and 8 grams of mint in a pot with 200 ml of boiling water and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Then, filter it all out and drink twice a day. Doing so may improve your stomach health and promote proper digestion.

As you can see, this is a very simple process.

Cumin, contraindications

It will be important to pay attention, as excessive intake of this spice could be harmful to health. Therefore consult your doctor to find out the most suitable dosage.

Also, you should avoid taking cumin in large quantities if you suffer from al diseases liver or in case of hypersensitivity to one or more components of the plant.

For pure precautionary purposes, finally avoid taking cumin when pregnant or breastfeeding. Unless approved by the doctor.

How is cumin used in cooking?

Source: Pixabay

Now let’s talk about the uses of cumin in kitchen. This spice is available both in the form of whole seeds and as a powder. The latter is obtained by grinding the toasted seeds.

This spice is yellowish-brown in color, but in the well-stocked supermarkets you may also find different variants, such as black cumin or green cumin.

I whole seeds they are widely used especially in Indian recipes, while the ground powder is found mainly in Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes. In Germany this ingredient is used to make an alcoholic drink, Kummel.

Finally, as we mentioned, cumin is an ingredient in curry powder. But often also of the chili pepper in powder.

What does cumin taste like?

Before seeing how to put cumin in recipes, it will be necessary to identify its exact flavor. Cumin has a taste that is defined as “hot and pungent”, a bitter-sweet that is able to enhance the flavors of the most diverse recipes.

To best enhance its aroma and taste, try lightly toasting the spice (both whole seeds and cumin powder) in a non-stick pan, over low heat, for a maximum of two minutes. In this way you will make its characteristic flavor more intense.

Cumin recipes: ideas to try

We have seen that cumin is used in many ways in cooking. If you’re using it for the first time, try sprinkling it on roasted meats or on cured meats, perhaps with thyme or rosemary. It gets along well with garlic, so add it as an ingredient to meatballs or sprinkle a pinch on potatoes or on baked zucchini.

You could also make a tasty cumin and mint yogurt sauce, or why not, you could also try your hand at making a typical Indian dish, namely jeera rice. Among the ingredients of this dish are basmati rice and various spices, primarily cumin seeds, to which cloves, cardamom and cinnamon are added.

Also an guacamole (aka the famous Mexican sauce made with avocado, lemon and spices) can take on a more delicious taste thanks to a sprinkle of cumin. The same goes for baked goods, such as bread or bread focaccia.

If you intend to use seeds, remember to add them to your recipes right from the start of preparation. This way they will have plenty of time to release their flavor and essence, thus enriching your dish.

Where can cumin be found?

Cumin, the characteristics
Source: Pixabay

Have you finally decided to try a recipe with cumin? Then you just have to buy the seeds or the powder version. But where exactly do you buy this product? In many supermarkets, in the special section dedicated to spices, you will be able to find it without any difficulty.

Generally the price of cumin is around 2 euros for a 20 gram pack. If you are looking for a cheaper solution, try to go to international supermarkets, where it is easier to find foods and spices typical of foreign cuisine.

Alternative al cumino

You haven’t had a chance to buy cumin but need a similar spice to complete a recipe? No problem. Fortunately, in fact, you can replace this spice with other ingredients with a fairly similar taste that are most likely already in your pantry.

Here are the spices used to replace cumin in recipes:

  • Ground coriander: this spice also gives a warm and enveloping flavor to your recipes
  • Curry powder: as we have mentioned, cumin is one of the main ingredients of curry, and this makes it a valid substitute in case of need.
  • Paprika: offers the typical “smoking” of cumin but not its taste. However, it will be able to lend a reddish and inviting color to your dishes!

Now you know everything about cumin, its beneficial effects and the different ways to add it to your recipes and take advantage of its properties even in the kitchen. So all you have to do is get to the stove and prepare a good infusion, a guacamole, spiced baked potatoes and all your favorite dishes!

Source: GreenStyle by

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